One of the victims of the shooting at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ said she pretended to be dead to avoid getting shot again.
Catherine Dickerson, 64, was back at work in Smyrna Tuesday. While she said she still had pain in her leg from the gunshot wound, she was in good spirits as she reflected on the scary ordeal.
“I am just thankful it was not worse than it was,” said Catherine Dickerson.
Dickerson had attended the church for three to six months, and enjoyed the close-knit feel of the congregation. She was walking out of the regular Sunday service when she heard a popping sound.
“I saw a man dressed in black with a mask on,” recalled Dickerson. “He was pointing a gun. I was like, 'oh my gosh.'”
Dickerson attempted to get back inside the church to take cover. Gunman Emanuel Samson shot her in the leg as she entered the building.
She heard more gunshots, and people screaming. She saw minister Joey Spann on the ground, severely injured. His wife Peggy was screaming. She knew she had to think fast to protect herself.
“I got on the ground and laid on my right side,” said Dickerson. “I threw my head back and put my purse over my face.”
She said Samson never said a word, but kept shooting. She waited until the scene was quiet before she moved. When paramedics arrived at the scene she was treated and taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center, along with church usher, Caleb Engle.
“I got to hug and comfort him,” said Dickerson. “It was the perfect place for me to be.”
Dickerson credited Engle for helping save lives. She said he risked his own life, to help others.
“He’s a wonderful young man, very courageous,” said Dickerson. “[Samson] had enough ammunition and guns to have taken everyone out.”
Dickerson said it was important for her to attend the vigil that was held at the church Monday night. She believes the church will move forward and be stronger than ever.
The Burnette Chapel Church of Christ released a statement Tuesday that said Wednesday services will be held at the normal time in the Fellowship Hall. If you would like to help the church, you can mail donations to PO Box 1028 Smyrna, TN 37167.